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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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160                                 LIFE   OF
" "Where uniform social plants cover the plain, mid the
eye rests on the boundless distance,, where the ocean's
waves playfully wash the shores and thread their way
through elms or sea-weed, the fooling for free nature
penetrates us everywhere, and the inward presenti-
ment of its existence by eternal laws/5
"Whoever has felt that a secret power exists in these
emotions, which refreshes, exhilarates, and strengthens
the wearied spirit, or soothes the afflicted heart, and
the storm of passion, will admire Hximboldt/s clear-
ness of perception., before which nature revealed her-
self to him. The solemn and serious feeling which
inspires us at such moments rests on the almost un-
conscious sense of a higher law and .natural legality ;
it is universality which stands before otir own limita-
tion from which we would escape ; it is an enjoyment
of nature accorded to all men, intelligent and ignorant,
on all portions of the world filled with animal ami
vegetable life.
But Hmnbolclt perceives another higher enjoyment,
likewise appreciated by the feelings, in the cireruu-
stance that man is moved not only by a cotmtmrmm
with nature, but by the special character of a locality.
He says: £C Such impressions are more vivid and more
decided, and therefore fitted for peculiar emotions.
Sometimes our feelings are excited by the grandeur
of nature in the wild struggle of conflicting elements,
or we are impressed bycthe desolation of iramo*Dur-
able prairies and steppes, pictures of the immutable
and rigid; sometimes we are enchanted by a more
pleasing image, the sight of a cultivated field, the first
settlement of man, surrounded by rocks on the brink
of the bubbling mountain rivulet/'
These two phases of an enjoyment of nature, OHpo-
cially the latter individual one, where the positive circle
of ideas and feelings which are excited by nature
prove its force and stability, are felt by Humboldt in
a truly poetic manner, as we shall often find in his
works. Wherever he indulges in recollections., lias
emotions wander back to the impressions of natureó